Celebrating the International Day of Persons with Disabilities – Achieving the Future We Want
Joan Turner
Joan Turner

CEO Canadian Business SenseAbility

Since 1992, the United Nations International Day of Persons with Disabilities has been celebrated annually on December 3. The theme for this year’s International Day is Achieving the Future We Want.

At SenseAbility, the future we want is one where companies realize the business potential of including people with disabilities as customers, investors and employees. We help companies think differently about their products and services to develop innovative and elegant design approaches that make products and services easier to use and more universally accessible. We are also proud to have Sodexo as a valued member of our business network and for helping change the conversation about people with disabilities.

Conservatively, 20% of people are disabled.

That’s a big number. We know that people with disabilities can be highly skilled, loyal and engaged employees, representing a virtually untapped customer base. SenseAbility works to ensure that businesses recognize and profit from that potential.

Those born with a visible or permanent disability accept their status as a fact of life. They try hard to not allow their disability to define them. Unfortunately, others often define them by what they can’t do.

The truth is, we all live on a continuum of disability.

At some point in our lives, most of us will experience some sort of disability. We may be injured in an accident or acquire an episodic condition such as depression, colitis or arthritis. As we age, our ability to do the things we used to do is reduced – our eyesight or hearing is impacted; we lose flexibility; we think and remember less clearly.

Adaptation is the key to inclusion

Our disability may be visible or invisible to others. We may be open about it or not. Some of us may ask for workplace adjustments to make us as productive as possible. Others may quietly adapt their lives and work habits to “keep up,” but be reluctant to ask for workplace support. Fear and concerns about employment, promotions, and career development opportunities may keep them silent.

So, we adapt: we change our schedules to allow more time to get to work and complete tasks; we look for tools, technology and supports to reduce the impact of our disability on our productivity. The ways we approach our daily lives with a disability often result in new thought processes that breed creativity and innovation.

How can you celebrate this International Day of Persons with Disabilities?

We encourage you to rethink disability. Consider it not only as something that happens to other people, but as an aspect of life – something that touches all of us, not in terms of impediments, missed opportunities and social justice.

You can help remove the stigma, both real and perceived, of disability and seek ways to integrate accessibility and inclusion in all that you do.

With your help and the support of companies like Sodexo, we can achieve the future we want – one in which everyone is able to contribute to the best of their Ability and not defined by their disAbility.

Joan Turner

CEO Canadian Business SenseAbility

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